Thursday, December 11, 2014

Red Hat’s release of Linux 7.1 = little endian hat trick for IBM Power Systems

By Rich Ptak

The beta release of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.1 is good news for Enterprise Linux customers as well as data centers currently committed to Linux on IBM’s Power Systems platform, Linux on Intel, or considering a commitment to the Power platform. Red Hat’s latest version includes support for IBM Power Systems running in little endian architecture mode. This accelerates business application innovation by eliminating a significant and outdated barrier to application portability. Customers with the latest IBM Power Systems can now leverage the significant existing ecosystem of Linux applications previously developed and restricted to x86 architectures. Red Hat joins Ubuntu and SUSE in supporting little endian mode.

This is significant because it increases business’ choice, flexibility and access to open standard solutions. It eases application migration from one platform to the other to take advantage of innovation anywhere, and any time. It enables simple data migration, simplifies data sharing (interoperability) with Linux on x86, and improves I/O offerings with modern I/O adapters and devices, e.g. GPUs.

The issue of big endian/little endian operating mode initially allowed applications developers to maximize application performance by exploiting differences in processor architectures. The difference also worked to the advantage of proprietary-minded vendors by reducing application portability as it tied applications more tightly to specific platform architectures. Important in the last century, all this changed under the pressures of open computing.

As the movement to embrace Open Standards/Open Software/Open architectures grew, the demand for application portability in an increasingly complex operating environment changed the dynamics of the market. It also changed the style of computing with the proliferation of interacting, interdependent transactions, Cloud, dynamic infrastructure and adaptive applications.
Data center heterogeneity has become the norm. Thus, making easy interaction and communication across/between multiple different architectures critically important as new generations of machines, data centers and enterprises merged, openness became the watchword dominating the market. It’s our opinion that this combination of Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Power Systems can accelerate business innovation, eliminate portability challenges, and solve IT challenges for companies of all sizes.